And the award goes to…

TOP-10I can’t believe it is already awards season. Where, exactly, has the summer gone? With the month of August screaming by, AIA Colorado’s Practice and Design Conference will be here before we know it.
Recently, I was asked to write a letter of recommendation for a firm that has been nominated for AIA Denver Firm of the Year. I’ll keep the individual who asked and the name of the firm confidential, (until they win, of course) but it is someone for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect.

I work for one of the larger firms in town and I think it might be a little easier to forget that there are still larger things outside the door. As a firm, we participate in many different markets, have people involved in all levels of the AIA and have a presence on community boards ranging from the Downtown Denver Partnership to Stapleton. We work with consultants that have strong relationships with other design firms, developers and municipalities. We hear things running through the undercurrents and, occasionally, are familiar with an inside track on an issue. These relationships cast a wide net, but there is always more out there.

Specific to the firm up for the award, I know two of the principals well, I know people that have worked for them, and I am familiar with a few of the projects that they are responsible for. However, I was amazed at how much work was on their website that I didn’t know about. It’s a reminder that there are always things outside of a specific sphere of influence, and it requires conversations with new people, or a walk just off your typical beaten path to find them.

It’s all too easy to stay in the bubble. From the front door of my apartment there are a few thousand apartments units being constructed in several multifamily developments. If one of those developments was to win an award at the conference in Keystone, it would be old news to me. But year after year, I am struck by how many of the award winning projects (and occasionally, firms) I am unaware of. It’s unreasonable to assume that one can be aware of everything that is happening across the region. If it doesn’t have a tower crane to mark the activity, it takes considerably more effort to seek out the activity.

My point is that there is a tremendous amount of great work going on. Some of it easily recognizable because of its location or its size (think everything at Union Station) and some of it will only be observed by those that live next door (this spectacular residential gem I stumbled across in Telluride a year ago).

So, what are you seeing? What are you working on that we should know about? What is the best of all that is new in your neighborhood? What projects are an absolute must see. What is on your top 10 list and who is doing the great work?

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